May 2013
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Studies show that if Americans increased their intake of potassium, the number of people with high blood pressure would drop by about 10%. In cultures where the intake of fruits and vegetables is high, the risk of high blood pressure occurs in as few as 1% of the total population. In America, one in every three adults has high blood pressure, and it is drastically increasing in children as well.

The Third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES III) studied more than 17,000 adults and showed that those who already had high blood pressure and ate at least 8.5 servings of fruits and vegetables/day (providing 4100 milligrams [mg of potassium]) lowered their blood pressure by 7.2/2.8 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), when compared to people eating only 3.5 servings/day. Some studies show that getting enough potassium is especially important for African Americans with high blood pressure.

Limiting sodium intake is still extremely important to preventing and treating high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, you should try to keep your sodium intake at or below 1500 mg/day.

Recommended daily intake of potassium – The recommended daily intake of potassium for all adults is 4700 mg.

The following foods contain potassium:

Potatoes, one baked=1081 mg
Lima beans, 1 C=955 mg
Winter squash, 1 C=896 mg
Spinach, cooked, 1 C=839 mg
Prunes, dried, 1 C=828 mg
Sweet potatoes, baked, one medium=720 mg
Prune juice, 1 C=707 mg
Bananas, 1 cup (C)=594 mg
Yogurt, low fat, 8 ounces (oz)=579 mg
Beets, cooked, 1 C=519 mg
Brussels sprouts, cooked, 1 C=504 mg
Orange juice, 1 C=496 mg
Cantaloupe, 1 C=494 mg
Honeydew, 1 C=461 mg
Dried apricots, 10 halves=407 mg
Skim milk, 1 C=407 mg
Trout, cooked, 3 oz=394 mg
Halibut, cooked, 3 oz=390 mg
Lean pork (pork tenderloin), cooked, 3 oz=354 mg
Tofu, 1 C=298 mg
Nectarines, one medium=288 mg
Peaches one medium=285 mg
Bluefin tuna, cooked, 3 oz=275 mg
Dates, dry, five =271 mg
Figs, dry, two=271 mg
Kiwi, one medium=252 mg
Orange, one medium=237 mg
Tomatoes, chopped ½ C=213 mg
Atlantic cod, cooked, 3 oz=208 mg
Pear, one medium=208 mg
Carrots, one medium=195 mg
Dry-roasted peanuts, 1 oz=187 mg
Avocado, 1 oz=180 mg

Diet and prescription drugs – Many nutrients besides sodium and potassium can impact your blood pressure. The best advice is always to choose a diet with a variety of whole foods and avoid processed foods, whenever possible. Too much potassium sometimes is harmful to older people and people with kidney disorders. Some diuretics are potassium sparing, meaning that you need to use caution and not consume too many potassium-rich foods.

People who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ACE inhibitors, heparin, cyclosporine, Bactrim®, Septra®, or beta-blockers should not start a high-potassium diet or take potassium supplements without first talking to their doctor. Always talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have any concerns.


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